Virgin America posts $35m loss in first-ever quarterly report

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US start-up Virgin America recorded a near $35 million net loss in the three months ended September 30, a period during which the carrier was operating for less than two months.

In a required “Form 41” filing to the US DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the San Francisco-based operator reports that revenue of $16 million did not offset more than $51 million in expenses for the quarter.

Start-up costs are being cited by the carrier as the driver behind its loss. A Virgin America spokeswoman notes the “incredibly high overhead” in launching a new operation.

A low-fare but high-service carrier, Virgin America sought for years to launch US domestic services but faced strong opposition from those claiming its ownership structure did not meet US laws and concerns that UK entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Group had undue influence. Virgin America agreed to revise its funding and management structures. In May the new entrant secured final DOT approval to begin operations.

On August 8, the airline inaugurated service from New York JFK and Los Angeles to its home base of San Francisco International Airport. It currently operates a fleet of 11 Airbus A320 family aircraft, plus one spare.